Face masks made compulsory in public in Tehran as COVID toll rises By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Iranians wearing protective face masks ride the metro, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tehran

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(Reuters) – Mask wearing has become mandatory in public in the Iranian capital and violators will be fined, President Hassan Rouhani announced on Saturday as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus infections.

The daily death toll from COVID-19 reached a record of 239 this week in Iran, the worst hit country in the Middle East.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry reported 195 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 28,293. There were 3,875 new cases, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV.

Masks have been compulsory in indoor public spaces since July, although no penalties were imposed. Now they are mandatory in public both indoors and outdoors in the capital Tehran.

Rouhani said in televised remarks that anyone caught without a mask would be fined 500,000 rials and those infected with the coronavirus who do not self-quarantine or inform friends and colleagues of their illness would be fined 2 million rials.

The Iranian rial fell to a new low against the U.S. dollar on Saturday as the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions. The dollar was selling for as much as 304,300 rials on the unofficial market, up from 295,949 on Friday, according to foreign exchange site Bonbast.com.

The United States slapped fresh sanctions on Iran’s financial sector on Thursday. Tehran has accused Washington of undermining its ability to pay for basic necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran closed for a week on Oct. 3 in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The city’s governor extended the closure on Friday for another week.

([email protected]; Editing by Ros Russell)

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